New York is the largest city in the United States of America, and
part of the state of New York.
Tchaikovsky visited New York in 1891, on his only tour of North America.
The main purpose of his visit was to conduct his own works in the opening week
of Andrew Carnegie's new Music Hall (now known as Carnegie Hall). The main points
of his itinerary were as follows.
- 14/26 April 1891 — arriving from Le Havre
on the steam ship La Bretagne, Tchaikovsky spent his first night at
the Hôtel Normandie.
- 15/27 April 1891 — he met the conductor Walter Damrosch, and went to
a rehearsal of his concert at the new Music Hall (now Carnegie Hall) on 25
April/7 May. "I managed to rehearse only the first and third movements of
the suite. The orchestra was excellent" . That same day he wrote to his
sister-in-law, "New York is a very beautiful and very distinctive city. On
the main street there are single-storey houses alternating with buildings
of nine storeys" .
- 16/28 April 1891 — he attended a performance of the American composer
Max Vogrich's oratorio Captivity. "More banal and mediocre music I've
never heard" .
- 18/30 April 1891 — he attended a choral rehearsal at the Music Hall. "The
chorus met me with an ovation. The singers were very good" .
- 19 April/1 May 1891 — he was taken on a tour of the Treasury building,
and wrote the article "Wagner
and his Music" (TH 319) for the Morning Journal newspaper. He also attended
a musical soirée at the home of the Austrian-born music critic, William von Sachs.
- 20 April/2 May 1891 — further orchestral rehearsals at the Music Hall
in the morning, and with the soloist Adele aus der Ohe in the afternoon.
- 21 April/3 May 1891 — more rehearsals with the choir in the morning. In
the afternoon, "I quite unwillingly went with von Sachs again to Schirmer,
who extracted from me a promise to return. A. Aus der Ohe played some pieces
extremely well, as with my concerto" .
- 22 April/4 May 1891 — after more rehearsals with Adele aus der Ohe, Tchaikovsky
went sight-seeing in the city. "New York appeals to me more and more. Incidentally,
there is a splendid Central Park here. And it is remarkable that people
of my age remember when cows were grazing in this place... The new hall, in
which the festival is to take place, is magnificent, and is larger
in extent than any of our halls" .
- 23 April/5 May 1891 — at the opening concert of the Music Hall, Tchaikovsky
conducted his Coronation March.
"The March passed off wonderfully. A huge success... Only at the end did I
experience a strong sense of satisfaction" .
- 24 April/6 May 1891 — rehearsing the Suite No. 3 for the following
- 25 April/7 May 1891 — on his fifty-first birthday, Tchaikovsky conducted
his Suite No. 3 at the new
Music Hall. "Terribly anxious in the morning. This singular fear is surprising.
How many times I have conducted this suite! It went wonderfully: why was I
afraid? But in the meantime I suffered intolerably! I had never been so worried.
In the end it was excellently received again and produced, as they are saying
in today's newspapers, a sensation" .
- 26 April/8 May 1891 — rehearsals of the Piano Concerto No. 1 for
the next day's concert. "I was angered by Damrosch, who used up the better
part of the time, leaving only leftovers for me"  . Later Tchaikovsky conducted
his choruses Our Father (No. 6 from the Nine Church Pieces) and Legend at another Music Hall
concert. "The choruses passed off well, but had I been less confused and agitated,
they should have passed off better"  .
- 27 April/9 May 1891 — in daytime concert at the Music Hall, Adele aus
der Ohe performed Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, under
the composer's direction. "My concerto, in an outstanding performance by Adele
aus der Ohe, passed off magnificently. The enthusiastic reception was more
than I have ever produced in Russia. They cheered without end, crying upwards,
they waved their handkerchiefs. In a word, it was obvious that the Americans
have taken a fancy to me. The enthusiasm of the orchestra in particular was
dear to me" .
In the evening, Tchaikovsky attended a performance of Handel's oratorio
Israel in Egypt at the Music Hall.
On 29 April/11 May, Tchaikovsky left New York to visit Niagara Falls, returning on 1/13 May. The following
day he left again for conducting engagements in Baltimore
- 7/19 May 1891 — he returned to New York from Philadelphia.
- 8/20 May 1891 — he attended a celebration dinner at the Metropolitan Opera,
given in his honour by the Composer's Club. "I sat through the first item.
They played the quartet in E♭ minor, the trio, and sang some romances,
which were performed beautifully (Mist-s Alwes), and so on. In the middle
part of the evening Madame Smyth read me an address; I replied briefly in
French; acknowledgements, ovations" .
- 9/21 May 1891 — at 5 p.m. Tchaikovsky left the port of New York on the Prince Bismarck, at the end of his American tour.
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- Diary entry for 15/27 April 1891 [back]
- Letter 4368 to Praskovya Tchaikovskaya, 15/27 April
- Diary entry for 16/28 April 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 18/30 April 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 21 April/3 May 1891 [back]
- Letter 4372 to Nikolay Konradi, 22 April/4 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 23 April/5 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 25 April/7 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 26 April/8 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 26 April/8 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 27 April/9 May 1891 [back]
- Diary entry for 8/20 May 1891 [back]